Ohio Edison To Repower Coal Plant With Biomass

Ohio Edison Company, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., has agreed in a consent decree to repower one of its coal-fired power plants using primarily biomass, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week. In the agreement, filed in federal court in Columbus, Ohio and joined by the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Ohio Edison will repower the R.E. Burger Units 4 and 5 near Shadyside, Ohio with biomass fuel.

The consent decree modifies a 2005 consent decree requiring Ohio Edison to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) at several of its coal-fired plants. The modified consent decree will reduce levels of those chemicals as well as carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from current levels by more than 1.3 million tons a year.

The original 2005 consent decree resolved a lawsuit filed in 1999 under the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act regarding Ohio Edison’s W. H. Sammis plant and required that the company reduce SO2 emissions not only at Sammis but also at several of its smaller plants, including Burger.

That agreement gave Ohio Edison three options to reduce Burger’s SO2 emissions: shut down the plant, install a scrubber, or repower with natural gas. Under the modified agreement, Ohio Edison will repower Burger beginning in 2012 with mostly biomass fuels including natural wood from waste tree trimmings and dedicated sustainable nurseries, agricultural crops, grasses and vegetation waste or products, co-firing with not more than 20 percent low sulfur coal.

“This is a great result for the health and the environment of the nation,” said John Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We are pleased that Ohio Edison has chosen to significantly reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants from the Burger plant and hope that Ohio Edison will become the standard-bearer for other companies considering conversion to renewable biomass fuels under the auspices of the EPA and state environmental agencies.”

Click here to read a copy of the consent decree is from the Department of Justice.

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